News and Tribune

February 14, 2014

3 teens charged in fatal arson

Fire started by flare shot into New Albany home killed 3 children

By GARY POPP
gary.popp@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Two teenage women were arrested Friday for their admitted involvement in the arson of a New Albany home in January that that killed three children and sent another with severe burns to an Indianapolis hospital.

Shelby Makowsky, 18, Kilmer Way in Clarksville, and Kylie Jenks, 19, McDonald Avenue in New Albany, were each charged prior to their arrests with class A felony conspiracy to commit arson.

Both women and a 17-year-old girl, who also is expected to be charged, have told police they were with Cody Cashion, 18, New Albany, when he fired a flare gun that sent a flare through the front window of a home at 335 Ealy St. in the early morning hours of Jan. 4.

Cashion was arrested by Clarksville police Jan. 8, after he struck a CPD patrol car during an attempted traffic stop — an incident that resulted in a class A felony attempted murder charge and other felonies.

After his arrest, Cashion said that has never had a flare gun and that he had no involvement in the New Albany house fire, but the three females have claimed they were in a vehicle with Cashion when he fired the flare into the home.

The New Albany Police Department reported a flare entered a room of the home where siblings Trinity Hughes, 2, Tyrese Hughes, 4, Taty’ana Hughes, 5, and Tai’zah Hughes, 6, slept in a king-size bed.

The flare is believed to have burned for seven seconds at temperatures exceeding 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Taty’ana Hughes was able to escape the room and was later rescued from the home.

During a press conference Friday morning, Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson said warrants had been issued for Makowsky and Jenks, and they were arrested later in the day.

“It is our belief at this point in the investigation there will be no further individuals charged in this matter,” Henderson said.

While Henderson called Cashion the “ring leader,” he said the females are also responsible for the fatal fire.

“It will be our attempt to hold these three individuals accountable for their actions, but I do believe, at this point, that Mr. Cashion is the most culpable,” Henderson said.

According to a probable-cause affidavit, the four teenagers traveled in Jenks’ vehicle from Makowsky’s mother’s home to Ealy Street with the intent to fire a flare into the house in response to a resident of that home stealing from them. The person they were targeting was not in the home at the time of the flare coming through the window.

“We do believe that they all went to the house with full knowledge of what was going to transpire as it relates to the arson,” Henderson said.



THE CASE

The combined effort the New Albany and Clarksville police investigators led to the four teenagers’ arrests.

The house fire was initially determined be caused by a space heater near the bed where the Hughes children slept. But, after Cashion and a juvenile male were arrested in Clarksville, investigators’ thoughts on the fire began to change.

After the arrests, Clarksville police contacted a NAPD detective involved in the fire investigation about information received in regards to Cashion’s involvement in the fire. A CPD investigator shared information with NAPD he had received from an inmate of the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center. The minor had told the CPD investigator that he had met with Cashion Jan. 5, the day after the house fire. The boy said that Cashion told him that he had shot a flare into the New Albany home that caused the deaths of three children.

Cashion shot the flare into the house because a man that lived there had robbed him, according to the boy’s statements.

The child told police Cashion had stolen the flare gun from the New Albany Walmart.

Investigators later determined that Cashion had been arrested Dec. 21 by NAPD at Walmart for attempting to steal a flare gun and eight flares.

Cashion was released from Floyd County Jail on Jan. 3, the day before the house fire.

The boy said Cashion hadn’t told him who he was with at the time of shooting the flare gun, but that Cashion, “ ... would ride with Kylie Jenks a lot,” according to the affidavit.

Through the interview with the boy, the investigator learned Jenks’ vehicle had been damaged by Cashion accidentally discharging a flare gun from the passenger seat. Jenks would later tell police Cashion had shot the flare unintentionally in her vehicle while in the parking lot of a Circle K along West Market Street in New Albany. She said they used a fire extinguisher from the business to put to put out the smoldering fire.

Police later processed the vehicle and confirmed a flare gun had been fired and struck the area between the windshield and a passenger-door frame.

NAPD later located Jenks in her vehicle in New Albany and CPD located Makowsky, then a “possible associate” in Clarksville, according to the affidavit. Jenks and Makowsky told officers that they had observed Cashion shoot a flare into the New Albany house during separate interviews. During the interviews, the two women also reported a 17-year -old female was in the vehicle at the time. The juvenile girl was later interviewed at the Clarksville Police Department with a parent present.

The girl gave the same account as Jenks and Makowsky.

“She stated that she heard what sounded like a gun shot, and when she looked back, she observed the window of the house glowing orange,” according the juvenile’s statement to police in the affidavit. “Jenks, Makowsky and the juvenile all stated that the car never stopped or slowed, and that Cashion shot at the house while the vehicle was traveling east.”

During subsequent police interviews, Jenks and the 17-year-old stated that while en route to the Ealy Street home, Cashion shot a flare at the home of another person, but the flare had not made contact with the structure and landed in a yard.

The juvenile also told police that she had heard that Makowsky shot a flare at the Ealy Street home days before it burned down, but the flare missed its target. Jenks corroborated the juvenile’s story, saying she was driving when Makowsky fired the flare gun, but missed the home Jan. 1. Jenks said Cashion was in jail at the time, and the women had his flare gun.

Jenks and the juvenile also told police that after Cashion struck the home Jan. 4, the four returned to the area and retrieved the spent casing, after they had learned the home had burned and killed three children.

On Jan. 10, two day after being arrested by Clarksville police, Cashion was interviewed at the Clark County jail.

He said, at the time, he was not involved in shooting a flare in the New Albany home, and the interview ended after Cashion requested to talk with an attorney.

Cashion was charged Feb. 11 in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 with three counts murder and class A felony arson resulting in bodily injury. He is being held in the Floyd County Jail under no bond.